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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Annie is the beloved 1982 adaptation of the popular radio show, comic strip, and Broadway musical. Overall, it's a charming and entertaining family movie that's full of memorable songs. But Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett), who runs the ramshackle orphanage where intrepid, determined Annie (Aileen Quinn) lives, is often drunk, slurring her speech and clutching bottles of liquor in a way that's intended to be funny. There's also flirting and occasional references to sex ("make hay," "tumble with the bundle"). Things never get too scary, but someone throws a lit bomb into Daddy Warbucks' office, and some tense scenes show Annie hanging from a bridge after being kidnapped and chased. The movie also includes racist stereotyping in the form of Daddy Warbucks' bodyguards, Punjab and Asp, and promotes the "rags to riches" idea of the American dream, which is idealized and not achievable by all.
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What's the story?
In this film version of the Broadway musical -- itself based on the classic comics -- about Depression-era orphan ANNIE (Aileen Quinn), the optimistic, determined red-head suffers indignities at the hands of neglectful orphanage director Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett). Ever-hopeful Annie dreams of the day that her parents will arrive to retrieve her, often singing songs and dancing to the delight of the other orphans. Hoping to boost his approval rating with local voters, rich politician Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney) takes Annie in for a week at his swanky Manhattan mansion. Annie wins over her new caretakers, but Miss Hannigan and her cronies Lily (Bernadette Peters) and Rooster (Tim Curry) see an opportunity to increase their cash flow.
Is it any good?
This beloved adaptation of the Broadway musical is sometimes uneven, but its charms take over by the end. The songs are a mixed bag -- "Dumb Dog" is just not all that good, but you'll have "It's the Hard-Knock Life" stuck in your head for days, and by the time Annie sings "Tomorrow" to President Roosevelt, you'll be singing it along with her.
Some of the performances are outstanding, particularly Burnett as Miss Hannigan. In the title role of Annie, Quinn is a fine singer, if a bit wooden as an actress. But the orphan girls are adorable, and Finney is wonderfully brusque but really an old softy as Daddy Warbucks. One definite issue is the racist portrayal of Warbucks' bodyguards, Punjab and Asp. Be sure to talk to kids about why this kind of representation is problematic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about musicals like Annie. Why do you think musicals have been popular, on both Broadway and in film?
Talk about how characters of color are portrayed in Annie. What kinds of stereotypes do you recognize? How does that affect your enjoyment of the movie? Has society changed since this movie was made?
What message do you think the filmmakers want viewers to take away from watching? Do you think Annie's "rags to riches" journey is one that people can actually achieve in real life? Why, or why not?
- In theaters: June 9, 1982
- On DVD or streaming: August 1, 2004
- Cast: Aileen Quinn, Albert Finney, Carol Burnett
- Director: John Huston
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Character strengths: Courage, Gratitude
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: peril
- Last updated: December 8, 2020
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